Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Review: Introverts in the Church

Today is Jan. 2 and it is National Introverts Day, no joke, I actually googled it the other day and low and behold there is a such thing as a day for us introverts. Since today is National Introverts Day I thought I would share some thoughts about a new book that I just read by Adam S McHugh, an ordained Presbyterian minister and spiritual director.

The full title of the book is Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture and for me this subtitle tells the whole story of the book. As introverts (and I am an introvert myself) we live in an extroverted culture where reality TV and the media reign. Today we are more connected to one another through internet, cell phones, Blackberries, Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of communication, than we ever were, but I wonder, how deep and real are these relationships? My gut feeling is probably not too deep at all! I laugh when I see people trying to multitask in the store, paying with their credit card and try to carry on a conversation with someone from a place far away.

Introverts in the Church tells the story about how introverts deal with the life of faith. The book is divided into nine chapters and includes an epilogue as well. I couldn't help but underline every other paragraph, because as an introverted pastor I thought I was just plan strange, after all, how can I as a pastor stand up in front of a congregation and preach the gospel, attend parish social functions, and be the talk of the weekly coffee hour? The answer is, I have a hard time doing all of this. Of course the introverted pastor has to compensate since we do have to engage our congregation on many levels, however, the truth is that most of us would rather take a long quiet walk in the woods, curl up and read a good book, or do some other solitude activity like gardening or cooking. I always thought that I was an oddball, I thought that as a pastor I was supposed to enjoy all of these things. Yet after reading Adam's book I realized that I wasn't strange at all, this is how typical introverts feel and act. I wish I knew this back in seminary!

Adam's book is backed up with secondary research and from the long list of endorsements from well known theologians, people such as Lauren Winner and Marva Dawn, and Dan Kimball you know that this book is worthy of reading at least once and perhaps even twice.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to better understand us introverts. Introverts in the Church should certainly be read by seminarians in who are in the ministerial formation process or for new pastors who want to better understand congregational culture.

You can learn more about Adam and his book here at his website ,which of course, is appropriately named Introverted Church